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A wine to pair with sushi? Uchi helped to create one

Arianna Auber
California's Stolpman Vineyards collaborated with Uchi to release an unusual white wine blend, Uni, now available at all Uchi restaurants and Uchiko. [Contributed by Amanda Woodward]

Light and fresh, sushi can be tricky to pair with alcohol. But it just got a little easier: Uchi teamed up recently with a California winemaker to release a wine that will go with sushi and other similar menu items at the Hai Hospitality restaurant such as sashimi, nigiri and uni.

In fact, uni is also the name of the wine, a 2016 roussanne and chardonnay blend produced by Stolpman Vineyards. Working with Peter Stolpman, the Hai Hospitality team decided to name the wine after the sea urchin delicacy as a nod to the white grape blend’s zippy profile, perfect for pairing with the fresh, briny meat.

Uchi beverage director Jason Kosmas — along with other Hai team members — traveled to the vineyards along California’s Central Coast to taste the final version of the Uni wine, after helping to develop it along the way. Now, it’s part of the wine list at all Uchi locations in Austin, Houston, Dallas and Denver as well as Uchiko.

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And it’s not your typical white wine blend, according to Stolpman in a news release. The blend features 67% roussanne and 33% chardonnay grapes and is bottled unfiltered, rather like the nigori sake easy to find on the Uchi menu. Leaving it unfiltered adds texture and means the wine continues to change inside the bottle, which has on its label a black-and-white illustration of the spiny sea creature from which uni comes.

“Roussanne might be the richest, most decadent white grape in the world of wine. Ripe fruit intensity and a coating, thick mid-palate deliver a hedonistic ‘wow’ factor not often found in white wines,” Stolpman said in the news release, noting that the complement of chardonnay contributes “a structured backbone.”

Uni is at 12 percent alcohol by volume and has “a big bouquet of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and unripe white peaches, creating a textured mouthfeel which contrasts a lighter body,” according to the release. “Bound within the creaminess lays a world of jasmine, tropical guava, pear and marzipan.”

Have it by the glass for $17 or by the bottle for $67 at the Hai Hospitality restaurants now until supply runs out. Hai recently announced the 2021 opening of a new Loro smokehouse in Houston.

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